Stroke. Just mentioning the word evokes fear and dread. And it should. In the United States, stroke is the third leading cause of death.
During a stroke, a blood vessel in the brain has ruptured (a hemorrhagic stroke), is blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or is blocked by fatty deposits (thrombotic stroke).
Whatever the cause, a stroke means that part of the brain isn’t getting blood and therefore oxygen, so it starts to die.
In the distant past, stroke patients were taken to a hospital and mainly observed. Treatment focused on helping patients learn to live with the effects left after the stroke.
In the 1970s, computerized tomography (CT) scanning gave physicians a way to tell an ischemic (clot-caused) stroke from hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke. In the 1980s MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) also was used as a tool to assess a stroke.
Although MRI’s detailed images became the surest way to identify the cause of a stroke using it had disadvantages.
Images from an MRI take a longer time to process, which sometimes meant the death of additional brain tissue; MRI equipment used to be located far away from trauma treatment rooms, making it inconvenient for use; and patients with pacemakers or other electronic devices had difficulty using the machine.
“Using an MRI also meant having to decode artifacts, or misrepresentations of tissue structures from the test,” says Baljit Deol, MD, DMH Neurointerventional Radiology Surgeon. “These artifacts could be misinterpreted by a physician making a diagnosis.”
Now, CT perfusion imaging, a specialized way of using CT, gives physicians fast, accurate information to help stop and reverse a stroke. And it is available locally only at DMH.
“CT perfusion is very accurate at evaluating blood flow to the parts of the brain where a suspected ischemia stroke is happening,” says Dr. Deol. “We also gain valuable information about the health of brain tissue and exactly what treatment would be the most helpful to the patient to save more areas of the brain.”
Using CT is also much faster to use with images generated more quickly.
A CT scan takes only a couple minutes to perform compared to 30 minutes for an MRI. Because CT equipment is more readily accessible in hospitals, with machines located in or near emergency rooms, emergency personnel have better, and faster, access. Patients with pacemakers and other devices are not restricted from using it and they are not required to be immobile for a long time to obtain clear images.
“Stroke-like symptoms also can be caused by a brain tumor, an infection or a traumatic injury,” says Dr. Deol. “These conditions can be detected by a CT scan, so appropriate treatment is started quickly.” With this new tool in stroke evaluation, DMH is excited to be one of the few hospitals nationwide offering it. “I think it cements our position as the premier neuroscience center of excellence,” says Dr. Deol.
When you’re dealing with a stroke, the sooner you can get to Decatur Memorial Hospital, the better your chances of not only stopping a stroke, but in reversing its sometimes debilitating effects.
Most hospitals follow a basic set of stroke “guidelines.” At DMH, our trained professionals have the expertise to not only stop an acute stroke while it is happening, but to reverse the stroke’s damaging effects. If you or someone you love thinks they may be having a stroke, don’t wait! Get to DMH immediately. Call 9-1-1 and get to DMH F.A.S.T.
Decatur Memorial Hospital has been awarded Primary Stroke Center Certification and the Gold Seal of Approval by the Joint Commission* after an on-site review in February.
Each year about 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke.
Distinguishing DMH as a leader in stroke care is neurointerventional radiology surgeon Baljit Deol, MD, who specializes in delicate pre- and post-stroke procedures including placing tiny wire coils within cerebral aneurysms and opening clogged arteries in the brain or removing the blockage from the artery.
The DMH multidisciplinary Brain and Stroke Center team includes physicians from emergency medicine, internal medicine, neurology, neurosurgery, neuropsychology, vascular surgery and neurointerventional radiology as well as specialized nursing, radiology and various rehabilitation services. Having immediate access to these specially-trained medical professionals and the latest technology to diagnose and treat strokes can often mean the difference between full recovery and long-term disability or even death.
To request a free informational packet, call the DMH Brain and Stroke Center, 217-876-FAST (3278).
* The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.